Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Mark Stegeman said...

[Note: A chronological list of links to AICL's coverage of the shut-down of the Mexican American Studies Department at Tucson Unified School District is here. Information about the national Mexican American Studies Teach-in is here. The best source for daily updates out of Tucson is blogger David Abie Morales at Three Sonorans.]

Earlier today (January 19, 2012), Tucson Citizen uploaded a screen shot of a Facebook page that includes a remark made by Tucson Unified School District president, Mark Stegeman. Stegeman was asked about other "non-approved" books that have to be removed. He said:
This is the first example I know of, because external circumstances made this case urgent. But I suspect that TUSD is using many books which were never legally approved, in many different courses, and we have to track those books down and either remove them or go through proper curriculum approvals. Staff has already begun that search process.
I read that and sat back a minute, stunned at the idea that (presumably) some unfortunate staff person in TUSD is going to (presumably) visit every classroom and every teacher, carrying a list of books the board has approved.

I'm guessing that the staff person is going to need a great big trailer to put those unapproved books onto!

What is the search strategy? Where did the search start? With English teachers? What grade level? What school did they start with? I sure wouldn't want to be that staff person.

And can you imagine being a teacher in the Tucson Unified School District, learning that someone was going to come into your classroom to see what you've got on your shelves?!

When I taught elementary school, I had hundreds of children's books in my classroom. Most elementary school teachers have a lot of books in their classrooms. Did they have each one "legally approved" first? Did they, for example, get last year's winner of the Caldecott Medal approved before taking it into the classroom? (For those who don't know, last year's winner was A Sick Day for Amos McGee, written by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead.)

And can you imagine being a first grader with A Sick Day for Amos McGee on your lap when that staff person comes into the room? What will be said to that first grader? Will the child be able to finish reading it? Or will it be taken out of the classroom immediately, as was done with the books that were removed from the Mexican American Studies classrooms?

Stegeman is either very smart or very stupid. His words put the entire district at risk. When he finds a bunch of unapproved books in classrooms, what is he going to do? He can't, of course, shut down a first grade classroom, but I wonder if there are pull-out programs that offer classes for specific reasons. Will those programs be shut down? Could the enforcement of this "legally approved" policy work in favor of the Mexican American Studies program?

Here's my screen shot of the Tucson Citizen screen shot:

Hang on, teachers. It's going to be a rough semester in the Tucson Unified School District.

AICL Coverage of Arizona Law that resulted in shut down of Mexican American Studies Program and Banning of Books


Anonymous said...

We have "approved" books for instruction, but books in the classroom library don't need to be approved. It's only the ones the teachers use for formal instruction. If a teacher wants to add a title for instructional purposes, they fill out the proper paperwork and get it approved before the board.

Debbie Reese said...


Thanks for your comment.

If you want to read aloud one of the books in your classroom library, does that count as formal instruction?

Patrick ONeill said...

Stegman certainly isn't stupid - a Professor of Economics at UA.
He has certainly made a series of stupid decisions, however.

I think he suffers from some sort of academic grandiosity - he's used to being the smartest man in the room and believed that he could solve what is essentially a political battle with his intellect and negotiating skills.

Of course the State had no interest in compromise.